Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues for the 109th Congress [September 12, 2006] [open pdf - 186KB]
"Over the past two decades, the Latin America and Caribbean region has made enormous strides in terms of political and economic development. In 2006, elections for head of government have already been held in seven countries in the region (including the close election in Mexico), and for the balance of the year, elections will take place in Brazil and Ecuador (October), Nicaragua (November), Venezuela (December), and St. Lucia (by year's end). Although the region overall experienced an economic setback in 2002-2003, it has rebounded since 2004. Nevertheless, several nations face considerable challenges that could threaten political stability, including persistent poverty, violent guerrilla conflicts, autocratic leaders, drug trafficking, increasing crime, and the rise of radical populism in several countries. […] With regard to democracy, Congress is providing continued support to Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation, under the new government of Rene Preval. Venezuela has remained a congressional concern because of fears that President Hugo Chávez is using his political power to push toward authoritarian rule. In Bolivia, the new government of President Evo Morales has complicated U.S. relations in part because of his stance toward U.S. counternarcotics policy. With regard to U.S. policy toward Cuba, Congress has continued to debate whether loosening or tightening the U.S. embargo will encourage political change. This report, updated bimonthly, provides an overview of U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the role of Congress and congressional concerns. For further information, see the CRS products listed after each topic."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32733